The first Manila Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) is underway.
The food fest was founded by Kate Dychangco-Anzani, a passionate food aficionado and wife of famed Italian chef Marco Anzani.
The event, conceived to bring life to the food industry in Cebu after COVID, has been adopted by Manila, Ilocos and Davao.
In partnership with the regional offices of the Department of Tourism, the festivals aim to establish the Philippines as the emerging premiere culinary destination in Asia.
The celebrations are designed to showcase our traditional and regional cuisines, local chefs and restaurateurs. They are meant to highlight our food culture, as well as fuel the fire of innovation to elevate our cuisine by establishing the “Tatak Pinoy” food stamping program.
I am a staunch believer that now is the time for Philippine cuisine to shine. This is why it was my privilege to have been the first to cook for the MFWF.
“Filipino Done My Way, in Reggie’s Kitchen” was the first of a series of events specially curated for the MFWF.
Being a staunch believer in the possibilities of Philippine cuisine, I felt there was no other food to cook but our own, to which, of course, I added some touches.
It was a very personal menu, as the dishes were created for a purpose that stems from my roots, a happy memory or for the purpose of simply sharing the way I cook Pinoy food and how I like to eat.
The theme was Sunday lunch, which I turned into a fiesta.
Guests were ushered in by dancers in native costume, holding flowers and leaves, while swaying to the strumming of folk songs by the rondalla. They walked to tables decked with kiping, adorned with tropical flowers and dressed with local handwoven fabrics.
For appetizers I had my rendition of chicharon bulaklak, large ruffled flower-like fat that are 250 g each. To cut through the fat, I served the chicharon with seasoned vinegar and an assortment of achar: radish, corn, chilies, papaya.
I also recreated the kilawing hipon with a trio of mangoes. This was one the dishes I presented during the Food and Wine Festival in Cebu, paying tribute to their famous mangoes. To the kinilaw I added the famous Cebu dried mangoes, some fresh mangoes and a pickled green mango relish to cap the kinilaw that sat on kaykay (cassava chips from Cebu) or fried fish skins.
Being the Ilocana that I am, bagnet had to figure prominently in my spread, and it did, in the form of sisig, drizzled with sriracha aioli and crowned with arugula ensalada. Salad was fried chipirones (baby squid) on a mixed bed of pako ferns and Chef Reggie’s hydroponically grown salad greens mix. It was served with a vinaigrette made from bugnay balsamic vinegar from Ilocos Norte, that I turned into a creamy dressing.
Soup was presented in coconut shells, where buko juice, chicken, oyster mushrooms and aromatics were left to steam for hours before serving. It was a good way to refresh the palate before the main course. It made a refreshing start to the meal.
Badjao lumpia was made of bangus tossed in blue pea-soaked vermicelli. It was presented with sweet garlic vinegar and vegetable confetti.
The seafood pancit Malabon was a spin-off, and my tribute to Aling Nene who, in my opinion, makes the best pancit Malabon.
Pistachio kare-kare had with dried fruit bagoong was a dish that I put together for a cooking class that was designed to serve dishes that are new and exciting to Filipino diners here and abroad. And so was salmon wrapped in pechay leaves and served with smoked bacon laing.
There is no hiding my pride in being 100-percent GI—genuine Ilocana, that is. As such, my kurobuta lechon was served stuffed with Ilocos garlic, Ilocos shallots and karimbuwaya (a succulent endemic to the north, with an innate tartness traditionally used to stuff lechon with). It was paired with seasoned sukang Iloco inspired by the suka at Dawang’s, the favorite karinderya of President Bongbong Marcos. The lechon was accompanied by pandan-infused puso, as lechon is enjoyed in Cebu.
Of course our lechon must be served with dinuguan. In my kitchen I call it Silky Dinardaraan, stirred for hours until the sauce is thick and glistening, just as mom did hers, La Union-style, when I was growing up. It is scooped with okilas, huge pig-skin chicharon, a delicacy in the north.
For dessert, I had a warm cronut base that held a freshly churned homemade coconut cream ice cream served with ube coulis, sweetened beans, jackfruit and bananas.
It was a feast cooked from my heart—one that happily, everyone enjoyed.
“Filipino Done My Way, in Reggie’s Kitchen” is just the first of many dining adventures for the MFWF. The organizers, Awesome Planet’s Anton Diaz and Spanky Enriquez, did a wonderful job at curating the events.
Some of the events to look forward to are the 12 Hands Collaboration of Antipolo’s Best Chefs (a bite of the history of Antipolo’s dining past, present and future); 12 Hands Collaboration Feast of the Best Chefs of Tagaytay and Silang, Cavite; Gen Tsi, a Tsinoy Heritage Dinner; and Chef Sau del Rosario vs. Chef Tatung Sarthou.
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